Matthew Fitzpatrick believes his game is trending in the right direction as he prepares to launch the defence of his DP World Tour Championship, Dubai title.
The Englishman has been in sparkling form since claiming his fourth European Tour title at the Omega European Masters in September, finishing inside the top 20 in each of his last seven events.
And with the focus firmly on the battle between long-time leader Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia for the Race to Dubai title this week, Fitzpatrick is hoping to slip under the radar as he looks to successfully defend his crown.
World Number 31 Fitzpatrick has happy memories of last year’s event, when he holed a nerve-shredding putt at the 18th to finish one shot clear of countryman Tyrrell Hatton.
While Garcia can still mathematically win the Race to Dubai, the Spaniard is the first to acknowledge that his chances are extremely slim. He will need to win the DP World Tour Championship and hope that Rose finishes solo fourth or worse, with Fleetwood outside the top 11.
No matter what result he achieves, Garcia will reflect on 2017 as the most satisfying of his career, the year he made his Major breakthrough with his unforgettable Master victory over Rose and added the Dubai Desert Classic and the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by his own Foundation.
Matt Fitpatrick: “My game’s trending nicely, I feel. Over the last eight or nine weeks I’ve been playing really solid and it would be nice to peak again this week, actually. Hopefully that’s going to be the case.
“Obviously the main focus is on Tommy, Justin and Sergio (Garcia) trying to win the Race to Dubai. That will take the main focus, there’s no doubt about that and it would be nice to sort of probably come in under the radar and I feel like I’m playing quite nicely, so you never know.”
“It’s great to be back, to see it all and where it all finished last year on 18. It is one of the Pro-Ams I most looking forward to, just to bring back memories and think about the shots we hit over the four rounds here. It could be an exciting week.”
Sergio Garcia: “What I’m going to do is I’m going to go out there and try to do what I do every week, which is to play the best I can play and give myself the best option of winning this week. I can’t control what the other people do. Obviously both Tommy and Justin are playing really well.
“I’m not expecting them to finish 40th or 50th. To be totally honest, I see a two percent chance of me winning The Race to Dubai, but I’m fine with it. I can live with it. It’s been a great year, and that’s not going to change. It would be amazing To win the Race to Dubai, but like I said earlier, even if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that my year is not going to be as good as it’s been.”